Transport of pigeons
The transport of the pigeons to the release points is a tricky subject. Conversations about this often turn into altercations. Those responsible for transportation usually do their best to make sure everything runs as smoothly as possible. In that case, a comment or remark is quickly interpreted as criticism.

During my studies I also conducted a study into the transport and transport damage in broilers. Temperature, PCO2 content and such parameters were also examined in four different seasons.

In my view, because the pigeon sport has become top sport, every facet in the pigeon sport is important, including transport. There are major differences between the various countries in terms of transport, the size of the baskets, the distance between the baskets. All factors that influence the oxygen supply of the pigeons in the cargo space.
There are transports where there are separate drinking troughs for each pigeon basket, but also systems where the water supply is centrally regulated.
The temperature during transport also affects the pigeons. The position in the truck is important. The way the pigeons are aired at the release point. Where does the wind come from. In short, there are various factors that influence the well-being of the pigeons in the baskets.
Often fanciers come to the clinic in the belief that their pigeons must be sick because they are late. Several times it is not much different to determine. But from the story of the enthusiast it can be concluded that the water supply in the baskets was not optimal. Certainly on warm transports that turn out very wrong. Have the pigeons been able to drink enough? All in all, there are many ins and outs that can be important in transport. Factors that may well be examined here and there.
One of the things that struck me as a vet in the last month and a half, were the huge infections with The Bully, trichomones and the increase in the presence of mucus, which pigeons accumulated in a short time.
Pigeons that were checked on Monday after a flight and then after three days in the basket were full of these parasites the following week. Often in quantities that seemed impossible to have arisen in such a short time.
Yet this was indeed the case. I'm talking about infections with the canker that increased from 0 to 4 and with The Bully from 0 to 6 plus. That in addition to a significant increase in the presence of mucus. In a number of cases the pigeons came home much too late or not at all. With such heavy infections, this is of course no longer surprising.
Under normal circumstances, such infections take ONE to TWO weeks to develop. However, not after three days of basket. I started to suspect how this could be.
A few years ago, this was also the case with a flight to Bordeaux. I believe the pigeons had been basketted for 5 days due to the bad weather and, just like this year, a moderate spring had preceded it. This year we also had very moderate weather conditions in May. Temperatures often suited March and April more than May.
Now you may be wondering what this has to do with the infections.
Well, it is generally believed that at high temperatures, the trichomones and other bacteria have a hard time surviving. Heat inhibits their development because they dry out faster. Cold and wet conditions are much more favorable to be able to survive outside the animal.
For example, we know from The Bully that he can easily maintain himself in the loft during the winter months. This bacterium is able to make a bio-film that increases its chances of survival. You should compare a bio-film with water that has been left on a terrace for several weeks. A gel layer is then felt on the inside of the bucket where it stands, for example. This gel layer is then not only a survival place for the bully but also for many other bacteria.
Now I have raised this development more than once with people who are responsible for transport. But I am always told that everything is well arranged. I can do well with that. But to measure is to know and that is exactly what a department that approached me has done.
I was approached this week by a representative of a department where samples from the drinking troughs as well as the water storage vessel had been checked for the presence of unwanted germs.
I was allowed to view the results and received confirmation of the suspicion that I had cherished for a long time. This accredited laboratory had determined that 'Bio-film-forming germs had been found that could be potentially pathogenic for pigeons.
In principle, this was a confirmation of my suspicion that a climate can be created under favorable conditions by a number of bacteria that can form a bio-film. This creates favorable conditions not only for themselves, but also for other potentially pathogenic germs and protozoa. It is as if they send out an invitation that says: come and live with me then you have a better chance of survival.
If we now have a warm and dry spring in which the month of May is very dry and hot, this biofilm will dry out in time between the flights and the intermediate flights. If the barrels and gutters are all properly and thoroughly disinfected after every flight, not much can happen.
But the transport of pigeons is also people's work, and where people work, mistakes are also made.
There are often many flights.
Then it is possible that the disinfection routine is skipped. Or, and worse, there is no protocol for a structural decontamination and then under certain weather conditions it can lead to a bio-film being formed in the drinking vessel or even the gutters, which then become a breeding ground for this bio film-forming bacteria and other infections.
One year is not the next.
So this year we had a relatively cold and wet spring. I therefore do not consider it excluded that there may be favorable circumstances here and there, such as in the department that approached me, as a result of which the losses among the pigeons could possibly increase sharply because of this.
What to do.
In addition to a good cleaning after each flight, the drinking troughs and the barrel with the water supply must also be properly disinfected. Just rinsing is not enough. That doesn't get rid of the entire bio-film or maybe I should say not at all.
Swimming pool chlorine that can act for a sufficiently long time and can be rinsed well may offer a solution to the problem here. Another option is Virkon S®. This disinfectant has or is about to be approved for drinking water use in chickens. The notorious bully, whose existence is still denied by a number of vets because they are unable to diagnose him themselves, is also sensitive to this drug.
After only 10 minutes of exposure to a 10% solution of Virkons S®, the bio-film has usually disappeared after thorough cleaning. Virkon S® tackles a wide range of viruses and bacteria and can thus help drastically reduce the infection pressure during transport.
I only want to give a few things for consideration now that the sounds of the excessive losses in associations, also with old birds, continue to persist.
Good Luck,
Peter Boskamp